Tag Archives: Upward Yoga

Dusting off the cobwebs

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OK so it has been over a year since my last entry. Whoever coined the term “time flies” .. they are NOT kidding at all. A person whom I am currently in business with, and who also has just completed her 200hr TTC at Vikasa commented recently that I should write more often and take this to a different level. It’s not that I have completely given up on writing, if in fact I have started writing in other places and this little corner unfortunately got a little neglected in the process.

A lot has happened and many changes has taken place since May 2013. Wow..May 2013. Just typing that out sends a little shudder down my spine because a year is certainly not a short time. If I had just 3 words to summarize my 16-month long absence from the blogosphere it would be “Everything is perfect”. Perfect in every sense, in every way that it is meant to be as it is today.

September 2013

In September of last year, I fought for (well ok a little, everything seems like a fight when you are in a big corporate setting it seems) and received a life changing international project. It sent me to Vietnam. To the city of Danang to be exact. I had always wanted to work as an external consultant to an NGO on a pro-bono basis. And I had also always wanted to experience what it’s really like to live and work outside of my own country for an extended period of time. Yes – the apt word for that would be as an expatriate.

It was to be the one project which not only allowed me to cross off the last final items off my list that I had wanted to achieve, experience and learn from as a management consultant, it was also the most valuable project that changed my perspective on the environment, my role within this world, my capabilities to achieve an infinite number of things that matter to me and creating real, genuine connections. I ran my first project all by myself, I worked with a number of French people who spoke in French a lot to each other which I’ve come to find addictive as I love the language, even though I can only understand maybe 5% of what was actually spoken, I volunteered to run yoga classes to a group of young Vietnamese adults. I later added 2 words to my limited Vietnamese vocabulary which was the equivalent to “Inhale” and “Exhale” in their language. I learned the power of body language surpasses all language limitations. I experienced my first major typhoon and the power of God that can so easily rip through the entire city in just one night. I was in a town that was on CNN and BBC for the entire week when Typhoon Haiyan was predicted to hit the city directly after it ravaged through Philippines. And I learned what it feels like to be in the path of Mother Nature’s wrath, and be in a place where curfews was put in place to ensure the safety of its people.

Most importantly, I learned that you can experience deep kindness and compassion from your client on your work, and my time there showed me what an immense amount of passion, curiosity, and the desire to help can truly do to ones own career and experience in life. 

Nothing after that, work-wise at least felt the same once I returned back to homebase.

February 2014

So in February of this year, after many sleepless nights, lots of conversations, and discussions of the same thing over and over again, countless hours of contemplation and endless prayers to be guided onto my next path in life, I made the decision to finally leave my corporate job. It was one of the most difficult and scariest decision I had ever had to make. The day I decided to have that conversation with the big people, my mouth went completely dry a full hour before the meeting took place. But once the conversation started, it felt like the most natural thing to do. I told them I wanted to go back to school. Traditional Chinese Medicine. The art of healing had always been close to my heart. So had the idea of taking my yoga teachings on a full time basis. I wanted to do both. I had a plan. Teach yoga full time for 7 months. Then commence school for a 5-year full time study. Some colleagues were amazed and encouraging, but I am pretty sure many more think I’ve gone bonkers instead.

That didn’t mean I danced and skipped my way into the non-corporate life. For a whole week after my last day at work, I woke up with a racing heart, thinking “okayyy, what if I can’t make as much as I did before? What if I can’t feed myself from my work as a full time Yoga Instructor?”

May 2014

Late April, a friend from high school connected me with her friend, a person who owned a yoga studio and was about to open another close to where I live. I was given first dibs into that new studio’s schedule that was opening in May, and asked to teach a few sessions to sub other teachers. I went from a maximum of 3-4 classes in a week to 21 classes a week. 

And though that was good for exposure, I did not anticipate the kind of energy that is required to back up a really intense teaching schedule such as that. I was sick for a short while (I believe the consistent yoga practice helped cut the down time and made it wayyy shorter) and powered through 2 classes pretending to be ok when I was really already running a slight fever by that time. The idea of self-care didn’t quite embedded itself deeply in me until that incident. 

Today

Mind Body Breath, the company which I founded was registered sometime in June. Today there are 2 parts to Mind Body Breath, personal, group and corporate yoga which I am responsible of, and personal fitness training program that my sister is currently running with much success as word of mouth spread. As an older sister, I am so absolutely proud of her.

Mind Body Breath has been featured in Healthworks.my with my articles on yoga. 2 of them were published in a national newspaper. In July, I was interviewed by one of the national news and it aired in earlier this month. A few days ago, I received a call from one of the female lifestyle magazine who wants to feature yoga as part of a healthy lifestyle. A lot of times throughout, I had to stop everything that I was doing for a little while, and breathe through the whole surreality of it.

A few months back, I was accepted as an apprentice with Ninie Ahmad, a yoga instructor whom I had always admired and been to her class before many times. She was mentioned in one of my earlier posts here. That whole experience was amazing. To be surrounded by like minded people, felt like I was back in Vikasa in 2012. A few of us now meet once every week, and talk about everything and anything yoga and the healthy natural lifestyle. Next month, I start teaching at her studio too.

On the business front, I became a partner to a cute and hippie yoga studio that first took me in May. I was actually invited to join 2 others to expand the first studio opened in Damansara Perdana. The studio is known as YogaonethatIwant. And just yesterday, we ran our first official event with Clarins in the newly renovated and expanded studio. I am infinitely blessed. 

One of the things that held me back in the corporate world was the family that I had found in all of the people whom I had shared many projects with. I didn’t want to leave a family behind. But I realised, you don’t ever leave a family once you have become part of it. We still keep in touch regularly. I see a select few on an almost weekly basis. In allowing myself to explore the rest of the world outside of the comforts of what I had come to know as my reality then, I have unknowingly become part of 2 new major families that are different in so many ways, yet alike when it comes to our love of yoga.

In October, I will make my first trip to India and finally dive in a month long Ashtanga practice with Saraswathi in Mysore. India had come to be on my list of places to visit since after Vikasa, to make that trip to the place of origin for all things Yoga. In November, I will be running 2 workshops at a national level Yoga Festival in Kuala Lumpur. 

And so here I am. In writing all of these, it is in no way of me to shout and scream about my achievements. If in fact, it is an exercise which I wish to undertake to allow me to reflect back on how far I have come since my last post here. It is a blessing in and of itself to be able to wake up feeling inherently blessed for everything you have got going on in your life.

 

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The upside of Upward Yoga

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Upward Yoga is yoga studio opened sometime in 2011 by Ninie Ahmad-Forget, one of the better known yoga teachers around Malaysia. I only knew about her recently when I stumbled onto her blog, intrigued by her writings and finding out that she has a yoga studio quite close to where I happen to live.

For the last 6 years, I have been a frequent student to the Kevala Center. During this time, I took many classes with different teachers mostly out of convenience of timing rather than a purposeful choice. I went through a number of teachers, all bringing their own unique way of teaching and understanding yoga. The diversity was great and it showed me that there is much to learn about yoga, and ones own understanding and acceptance of it can vary greatly from one person to the other.

Nevertheless, I always find myself gravitating back to Dr. Dhilip and his classes and for the past 1-2 years, he has been the only teacher which I have been learning my poses from, and the one that continues to teach me great many things about the philosophy of yoga beyond what is required on the mat.

One of the beautiful things that he’s taught me about yoga is that it encourages you to tune into yourself, and really listen to what your body is trying to tell you. A new pose might feel uncomfortable, yes, but it should never feel painful or make you temporarily stop breathing because you’re trying so hard to keep still in that one pose. A great article covered by the Yoga Journal recently summarizes this point perfectly (Yoga shouldn’t hurt). When I recently got my best friend, Z to sign up to his classes, one of her ways to describe his classes was “wholesome” which is true, because I am always calmer, and more at peace at the end of his classes. His classes can be challenging at times, one which I have grown to love but lately I have been feeling the need to attend classes which ‘pushes’ me more and further into my poses. In short, something that will challenge me outside of my comfort zone.

So when I learned that this wonderful, tiny teacher by the name of Ninie who writes so eloquently has a studio nearby, I decided to drop by for some trial classes today.

Being a public holiday, Z and I woke up nice and early and headed straight for our class at 9am. We had about maybe 10 students in there and went through the sun salutation – a variation which was different to what I am used to. I am not sure if sun salutations should be practiced in exactly the same way in different types of yoga but variety in this case was truly the spice of my morning 🙂

I wanted to be pushed out of my comfort zone, and that was exactly what I got. Straight out of the comfort circle and into the wilderness of sweaty, challenging, and uncomfortable poses. Maybe it was because I was new to the class, I felt like I had something to prove (and you know how that ALWAYS ends up ugly right?), at times feeling like I should be able to do what that chick in front of me in her grey Lululemon yoga pants and top is doing.

Once I lost my balance in the Ardha Chandrasana pose and nearly crashed into Z who was beside me, narrowly avoiding a domino effect of stumbling yoga students in that class. A couple of times I find myself thinking “how to become yoga teacher like this??”

But Ninie was a good teacher, leaving you to decide at which pose to safely remain in whilst giving you options to take those poses deeper and challenging yourself further. She made the effort to know her students by name (which always scores brownie points in my ‘yoga teacher evaluation’ books). She complimented on my “line” during a variation of the Bitilasana pose, but also pointed out that I had the wrong leg up during the Vrksasana pose. She was big on the safety part of the practice and gave a couple of reminders throughout the 75 minutes. Never have I been in a class when my sweat threaten to drip to the floor while holding a pose. At the end of it, there was a certain sense of rejuvenation, and I felt energetic like my internal batteries were all fully charged up. I most definitely got what I wanted out of the class, and I think I will be back for more when my need for variation and an extra challenge calls for it.